Brett Smiley is running for Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island—one of America’s historic and pre-eminent LGBT travel destinations. Normally mayoral runs outside major cities don’t attract much attention—especially in Providence, where David Cicilline became the first openly gay mayor of a U.S. state capital, where he served from 2003-2011 before going to Congress.
What makes Smiley’s run so newsworthy is, frankly, his almost non-newsworthy new ad campaign. It fits in with a growing trend of LGBT politicians telling personal stories, along with family members, as part of their campaign pitch – just like straight politicians. Clay Aiken’s well-produced, personal campaign launch this year became a national example of LGBT people telling their stories. San Francisco’s Bevan Dufty produced an ad for his 2011 mayoral run featuring Dufty and his child. Carl Sciortino had a warm back and forth with his proud Tea Party father in his ultimately unsuccessful run for Massachusetts’ 5th Congressional District.
What a major leap from the days when pollsters told the LGBT community that ads supporting same sex marriage needed to have a “third-party validator” or be a visual metaphor to evoke empathy and compassion like the Oct 2007 “Garden Wedding” Let Campaign Ring ad with the always-blocked bride trying to get married. In Smiley’s ad, he’s proposing to his husband—using a Power-Point presentation. It’s a humorous – and unblinking - play on how Smiley is a man with a plan.